KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Preseason rankings for the 2021-22 NCAA women’s basketball were released Tuesday and the Lady Vols will enter their third season with coach Kellie Harper leading the team with elevated expectations both in conference and nationally.

Tennessee will begin the year at No. 15 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll, marking the first time they’ve appeared in the preseason rankings during coach Harper’s tenue. The Lady Vols are one of four SEC teams to be named to the list.

Their regular season schedule will feature matchups with eight teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, including the top three of No.1 South Carolina, No. 2 UConn and No. 3 Stanford.

The Lady Vols were also picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference by a panel of conference and national media members, trailing only last season’s SEC Tournament champions and NCAA Final Four team South Carolina. The projection is the highest for the Lady Vols since the 2015-16 season.

Tennessee has finished third in each of the last two seasons of SEC play. The 2020-21 season saw the Lady Vols end the season at no. 13 in the AP Poll, their first year-end poll placement since 2017-18.